Did you know that 24 million days are lost to ill health each year? Out of that, the breakdown includes 10.5million from stress related illnesses, and a staggering 9.5 million from musculoskeletal disorders.
At my last Workshop in October, Jenny Collis of the Fit & AbleWorkplace did a presentation on managing musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the workplace. From that, Jenny kindly allowed me to write this blog to help you manage MSD in your business.
MSDs are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e.muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.). In the workplace, there are a number of situations that can cause MSDs, especially where repetitive movements are necessary, as in a factory setting, or when sitting for long stretches of time at a workstation. Note – don’t sit for long! Get up regularly and walk around for a few moments.
Because this is quite a lengthy subject, the second part will be published in January 2019. This blog focuses on the following objectives:
- To discover how MSDs are identified, reported and managed
- To help you review provisions for DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment asrequired by Health & Safety legislation, and to ensure that they are appropriate for changes in technology and flexible working practices
- When to seek external specialist support and what to expect
Identifying and Reporting of MSDs
As an employer, you need to comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, which was amended in 2002 for office-based computer users. This means that you need to check that the whole workstation – including equipment, furniture and the conditions – are set up correctly, correcting any risks, to ensure that each individual employee is positioned in an ergonomically correct way that’s also comfortable for working efficiently.
Assessments need to be carried out regularly, especially when a new employee starts work. Therefore, it’s important that the staff you nominate to carry out assessments are properly trained to correctly assess workstations and other areas.
Of course, these days there are huge workstation variations within different organisations, especially with all the different technologies around. For instance, many people use iPads and smartphones as much as, and sometimes more than, desktop computers and laptops. So when assessing workstations, it’s important to take consideration of all the different working possibilities.
Information sheets are available from Fit & Able Workplace to help your designated staff to assess and advise,such as:
- Top tips for using a computer including some simple exercises
- How to use a mouse and keyboard correctly
- How to take the pain out of driving
Considerations also need to be made for flexible workers, hot-deskers and so on, as well as manual workers and production workers.
Remote Workers and Using Specialist Services
It’s also important to assess remote workers regularly, both the vehicles they use if they’re on the road a lot (as many sales forces tend to be), and/or their workstations at home.
It could be that some of your staff have medical conditions that they are reluctant to report on, so it’s important to help them to understand that they will be supported to keep their jobs and carry out their roles comfortably by putting some simple exercises or changes in place that will help them. For instance, ensuring that regular breaks are made in order to do some stretches or walk around for a few moments, as advised by the assessor. If you need to request letters from their GP or other medical practitioners about their condition, an external DSE specialist may be necessary.
Ergonomic Workplace Assessments
You may feel that it’s simpler and safer to use specialist services. If so, this is what you can expect to receive:
- One hour on site with each user
- Discussion of medical conditions and clinical management
- Discussion of their work role, including all routine and external work factors
- Observe the user undertaking their work, using knowledge of musculoskeletal disorder to identify the aggravating factors in and outside of the workplace
- Provide advice and training to the user and implement solutions where possible
- Provide a comprehensive report to you with findings, advice given, solutions implemented and any employer recommendations.Where equipment is suggested, generic recommendations are provided with examples of appropriate equipment. Quotes from suppliers can be provided withassessor discounts incorporated or equipment can be purchased from preferred company suppliers
- All compliant with GDPR
Naturally, you can have your own trained staff carry out these assessments, certainly on an initial basis and unless a complication or riskarises that needs expert assessment. It’s also advisable to contact a specialist before purchasing new equipment or furniture, to ensure it is correct for the situation.
In January’s blog, we will focus on:
- Clarifying what actions can be taken in-house by H&S trained staff, with tips and advice on simple solutions for both the workplace and remote working situations
- More information on when external expert help is required
In the meantime, if you have any queries on MSDs and helping your staff to work comfortably and safely, or any other staff issues, do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me and I’ll refer you to Jenny at Fit & Able Workplace if needed.